The train station is right in the heart of town; that's one advantage of using trains: usually, the station is right in the town center, whereas so many bus stations are way out, maybe 10-15 KM, and is a pain to get to city center
. Well, anyway, I hooked up with an Austrailian chap in the station, and we headed out to find a bed, singely. I checked into the first place I found:the hotel right at the train station. It is OK, barely. But from what read, all of the cheapies are just barely OK. But, the price was acceptable, 150B, or about $4 USD. And....I had a room to myself. I hate to admit it, but think my dorms are about at an end if I can afford it. The last one in Bangkok was very uncomfortable for me; but no more so than any other time. I think I've just outgrown the dorms. At long last. I hope I have deep enough pockets. I just couldn't get organized: clothes on the floor (just a few inexpensive hooks would mean a lot of difference!) and a room mate who had reversed hours. He cavorted all night and slept all day which is OK, except I didn't want to turn the light on while he was asleep during the day. Also, no lockers in the room, and it scares me to leave all my electronics in the room, unguarded. Anyway, here I was able to spread all of my crap all over, get myself organized. Make my "kitchen" for my coffee and oats. I still have quite a bit of my Lao coffee, so I whip that up every morning. Have weaned myself off of the 50% sugar "Coffee Pot", so that's a plus. So, as soon as I dumped my stuff, went out with Jeff to find his room. He wasn't happy here with my hotel, and maybe rightly so. It was the course of least resistance for me. Well, we checked out the London Hotel, and others. There's a hostel listed in LP, but we didn't find that. Anyway, I saw a restaurant, and I was famished, even with the food I ate onboard the train. I can say that the eating and accommodations are much cheaper here than Bangkok, which seems to me to be more expensive than Shanghai! (In my later months, I had really gotten spoiled with the prices in China cold weather and all.) Lao wasn't even as cheap. At the restaurant, I selected my fish (about 6" long, don't have any idea what kind it was, except good!) snowpeas, and steamed rice for about .80$, that's 80 cents
! Yeah, that's more like it. All very tasty. After eating, I messed around; found the "department store", and looked around for an E-Reader. None to be found. So, I hiked back to the hotel. One thing good about this place, it's easy to find: just hone in on the train station. And...there's a huge wonderful market very close.
The first full day after eating/drinking coffee, oats, I went out looking for the tourist center. Well, I did finally find it, after asking 3 times. It really isn't that hidden, it's just that there is damned little English here. At least in China, all of the streets were signed in English as well as Chinese. There was a ton of info (maps of many of the provinces, towns, etc) but the guy didn't speak English very well at all. Oh, I did get a very good free map of this city, and very good bus and train info. I am planning on visiting Sukhothai, and he does have a very good pamphlet covering that (in English). I returned to the hotel, watched a little of Alice in Wonderland, thanks to Carol. (I copied her DVD). I was planning on leaving, and wanted to spend the afternoon, evening at the Wat and the night market. So, off to the Wat (another one!).
First, I crossed the bridge over the railroad tracks: I wanted to check out the hostel, but never could find it
. I ended up at the Wat instead, and it is surrounded by food/clothing/junk stalls. But, after navigatating through them, I wandered upon the Wak Compound. And this one is pretty spectacular; so much so that the tour buses stop here. I photographed it, as usual, and will get those photos uploaded. After touring the Wak several hours, I walked across the river: I wanted to check out the floating restaurants. There's a promenade that's a beautiful walk, especially in the evening. I finally arrived at the next bridge where the floating restaurants are located, and I was too early, so decided to skip it. I've eaten on a boat before. I walked across the bridge, and there was a huge set of tents set up selling food, the usual, and a portable stage set up with lights, etc. They were having a dance contest, so I found some food, sat down to watch. It was pretty interesting: the young men all doing these crazy acrobatics! Oh well.
So, back to the hotel. I get up so early that I like to go to bed before 10.
I found a tuk-tuk to the long distance bus station, so, on to Sukhothai!
I arrived here on the train 111, the 3rd class day train from Bangkok (departing at 7AM and arriving at 2:15PM). It was very cheap, it was as comfortable as coach on a plane, and very, very scenic. I would advise it for anyone who has a little spare time. I believe the fare was about $5.50 USD. There are food vendors continuously, so you don't have to bring anything to eat or drink. I came here because I was humpin' up to Chiang Mai, to see my friends, but I wanted to see something on the way; 12 hours was a little much (straight thru), so I decided on a pit stop. I checked Phitsanulok out on LP, and it seemed worthwhile, in addition.